KO’s Top Three Trends from Expo East 2016

Wondering what natural and organic product innovations are hitting shelves right now? We found them last week at the 2016 Annual Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. With more than 28,000 attendees and 1450 exhibitors representing natural and organic consumer brands, it was the largest Expo East yet.

Despite its size, Expo East, like its counterpart on the West Coast, feels neighborly, with genuine and passionate people welcoming you to their temporary home in every aisle. From the parents who created  products for children with dietary restrictions to companies inspired by medicinal recipes passed down by generations, we were blown away by the entrepreneurs working hard to bring their story and product to the world. Alongside these new entrants, it was exciting to see countless larger brands reaching new markets all over the world, paving the way for 11% growth in natural and organic foods and beverages last year.

Here are the top three trends that caught our attention:

Speed Scratch

Combine made-at-home flavor and packaged convenience with healthier food options and you get Speed Scratch meals, offering an appealing option to consumers seeking tasty meals in a pinch or semi-hand-crafted snacks.

Examples: Plant-based meals from Sweet EarthUpton’s Naturals specializing vegan alternatives to meat including jackfruit and seitan, and The Curious Creamery has eco-friendly DIY ice cream.

Protein Power

New ingredient combinations and nutrient-dense powders are making paleo, ketogenic and high protein foods and beverages ubiquitous. Starring ingredients included: nuts, peas, seeds, avocados, dried meats and even insects.

Examples: Ripple Foods offering milk made from peas, Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Boosters (full disclosure: Our team built Bob’s Smoothie Matchmaker site showing how to use these ingredients); and Chirps delivering snacks made from crickets powders.

Purposeful Promise

Many companies are sharing their social and environmental impact stories in their booths and on their packaging. They are sourcing strategically to create jobs in low-income communities, using novel approaches to reducing their carbon footprint, and working to make healthy food accessible for all. A growing number of these companies have become certified B Corps, and we were grateful for their warm welcome.

Personal highlights for the KO team included catching up with clients, partners and friends. We’re already making plans for Expo West 2017 in Anaheim. Hope to see you there in March!

References: New Hope Network press release via PR Newswire Monica Watrous, Food Business News “Top Ten Trends at Expo East 2016, Jenna Blumenfeld and Jessie Shafer, RD, New Hope Network, “3 ‘Speed Scratch’ products that make dinner easier

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